DAYTON — Tuesday’s girls high school tennis match between Carroll and host Bellbrook may have been the first match of the season, but the competitors played like they were in mid-season form.
The host Bellbrook Golden Eagles needed wins at third singles and both doubles matches to overcome Carroll’s Milano sisters for a 3-2 team win at Five Seasons Tennis Club. The match was originally scheduled to be played on the outdoor courts at Quail Run Tennis Club, but rainy weather moved the match indoors to nearby Five Seasons.
Sisters Jillian and Carli Milano each claimed straight-set wins at first and second singles respectively. Carli claimed a 6-3, 6-4 win over Bellbrook’s Megan Yates at second singles. Jillian needed a lot more time to defeat Rachel Heinz in the best match of the day.
Jillian Milano won 6-4, 6-2, but the two players often traded 30 or more solid baseline shots before a point could be determined. Both Milano and Heinz have played each other in United States Tennis Association events.
“She played really well today. I’ve always won against her, but she played her best tennis against me today,” Milano said of Heinz. “I’ve been working a lot on my attacking game, just trying to move into the net behind my forehand more. I’m trying to be more offensive, and not just play passive aggressive tennis.”
Late in the match, Milano reeled off a series of strong serves that seemed to be the turning point of the match. “I’ve been working a lot on creating more power in my serves, and it really worked for me there,” she said, sounding almost surprised with the results. The suddenly strong service game enabled Milano to jump out to a convincing 40-0 lead, and eventual win, in the deciding game of the match.
The Milanos may have won their matches, but Bellbrook won the team war.
“I think we played really well,” first-year Golden Eagles coach Emily Buerschen said. “This is a great start. We’ve made a lot of changes this year. They’re in much better shape, we’ve been practicing a lot, and we added a lot of strength & conditioning to our training. So, they are able to last longer and play at full speed longer than they had before. I know it wasn’t as close the last time some of these girls played each other, so that’s good to see.”
Buerschen was particularly proud of her senior first doubles tandem of Megan Bias and Hannah Songer, who defeated Carroll’s Olivia and Emily Simons 6-0, 6-4. She said the Simons sisters had given Bias and Songer trouble in the past, and points to the seniors’ leadership in practice, and a revived gameplan, as perhaps a big reason they played so well this time.
In other matches, Bellbrook’s Ali Contestable earned a 6-0, 6-3 win at third singles over Madison King, and the Golden Eagles’ second doubles pair of Caroline Wong and Abby Schultz claimed a 6-1, 6-1 win over Carroll’s Megan Weitz-Alicia Eatleger-Ayala tandem.
Sure, it was a 3-2 loss for Carroll and coach Rhonda Rains, but she left Five Seasons feeling encouraged as well.
“I think we played really well. A couple of our courts got off to a slow start, and that may have been the difference,” Rains said. “If we go out and play them tomorrow, maybe we beat them 3-2 instead. … I think we’re going to have a very successful season.”
According to the Greater Catholic League websites, the Patriots claimed a narrow 3-2 win over Bellbrook in Carroll’s final regular season match of the 2013 season. The two teams did not face each other in 2012, but Carroll claimed another 3-2 win in 2011.
Both teams return to regular season action Thursday. Carroll will open up Greater Catholic League Co-Ed play at Chaminade Julienne, while Bellbrook will host Middletown Fenwick, at Quail Run.